China's strategic missile force was recently renamed the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF), implying an expansion. Last month, China joined the other four nuclear powers in affirming that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Examining the evolution of China's nuclear strategy may help explain the seeming contradiction between China expanding its nuclear force and vowing not to fight a nuclear war.
A critical driver behind China's development of nuclear weapons was the idea that a country must possess nuclear weapons to prevent countries with nuclear weapons from blackmailing it. The concept defined China's nuclear strategy during the 1960s and 70s following its successful nuclear test in 1964.